ADVERTISEMENT
  About the SA Blog Network













Observations

Observations


Opinion, arguments & analyses from the editors of Scientific American
Observations HomeAboutContact

Hurricane Season: How Do Storms Form? [Video]

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.


Email   PrintPrint



The Atlantic Hurricane season officially begins Sunday, June 1, and runs through November 30. Last week various agencies released their predictions for how many hurricanes might develop and how many might be big ones. The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which overseas the National Weather Service, forecasts a below-average season, with three to six hurricanes, only one or two of which would reach Category 3 strength or higher. The Weather Channel, which is an independent, commercial outfit, predicts five hurricanes, with two reaching Category 3 or better.

These annual predictions can be off by a fair amount. They are usually in the right ballpark, but considering that the ballpark is less than 12, that’s not a stretch. One factor this year is that meteorologists are seeing mounting evidence that a strong El Nino pattern will develop in the equatorial region of the Pacific Ocean during the summer. That tends to increase wind shear across the central Atlantic, which can help pull apart nascent hurricanes there, although not always. So we’ll see what happens.

Much more precise is our understanding of how hurricanes form. We put together a video and animation to explain that, which you can view below.

Hurricanes that arise in the Atlantic usually form off the coast of Africa and cross the tropics. As soon as one of these disturbances arises, the National Hurricane Center starts to track it, in exquisite detail. You can follow along on the center’s cyclone page.

Mark Fischetti About the Author: Mark Fischetti is a senior editor at Scientific American who covers energy, environment and sustainability issues. Follow on Twitter @markfischetti.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.





Rights & Permissions

Add Comment

Add a Comment
You must sign in or register as a ScientificAmerican.com member to submit a comment.

More from Scientific American

Scientific American Holiday Sale

Limited Time Only!

Get 50% off Digital Gifts

Hurry sale ends 12/31 >

X

Email this Article

X